Tuesday night was fantastic for Manchester United but they can’t let up now.
No one could have predicted Manchester United’s 9-0 win against Southampton in the week. It was a result that made the Premier League picture look a little brighter in the long term for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and co. Previously, the Reds were lagging behind in the goal difference stakes but now they find themselves much closer to Manchester City and ahead of Liverpool. That fact is made all the more pertinent with United’s two closet rivals facing each other at Anfield this weekend.
Of course, the chances of Manchester United truly staying in a Premier League title race rely on City slipping up and Solskjaer’s side being near-perfect. But, whilst the hope is alive and the leaders are in reach, United have to do everything they can to stay in touch. Beating Everton on Saturday night and either closing the gap to City, extending a lead over Liverpool, or both could be another huge psychological boost.
There could be no better way to prepare for this weekend’s assignment than the game on Tuesday night. At a point when United needed their forwards to find some form and confidence, Solskjaer’s men set about filling their boots after an early red card for the Saints. Clearly dialled in to the need to boost the goal difference, they were ruthless and relentless. It’s a great mindset to carry into this game and beyond.
In terms of selection, there has been a few injury doubts in the squad, something that Solskjaer has been efficient in avoiding in the first half of the season. The main concerns were over Edinson Cavani’s ankle. The striker took a heavy blow when going down for the reversed penalty decision on Tuesday night and came off at half-time as a result. Thankfully he had already bagged his first Old Trafford goal before resting up and the United boss has confirmed that he is fit and available.
In contrast to the situation before the previous game, the manager now has all of his forwards looking sharp and confident. Even though he was one of the few to not get on the scoresheet, Mason Greenwood looked increasingly back in the groove with his all round play. If he is to miss out against Carlo Ancelotti’s men, he can count himself unlucky.
There is a sense that it will be the youngster that drops to the bench this weekend, though. Solskjaer was able to leave Paul Pogba on the bench for the duration of the Southampton game and he will likely be expected to come back in refreshed. Rather than being further forward, though, it could be that returns to his central midfield role.
The reason for that being the positivity of Anthony Martial’s output this week. The Frenchman has been clearly out of sorts recently but his contributions after coming on as a half-time sub in midweek signalled a returned to form. His two goals and general performance make it hard for his manager to leave him out. He may well start off the left with Marcus Rashford making his customary switch to the right.
The latter part of that plan isn’t ideal with Rashford looking noticeably more comfortable on the left-hand side but if Solskaer has the desire to have his most in-form players on the pitch, it may be the approach that wins out.
At the back, Eric Bailly is still struggling with a knock and is unlikely to feature. That probably means that Victor Lindelof will continue at centre-back for the third game in a row. Thankfully, the gap between games this time around has been favourable so that shouldn’t prove to be a step too far for the Swede.
Whilst Everton are down in 7th place, eight points behind United, they have played two games less. There’s an argument that they’re just as ‘in the mix’ as the Reds but a defeat on Saturday night would seriously dent their credentials. The Toffees’ form shows a touch of inconsistency of late but they come into this game on the back of a professional win away to Leeds United a few days ago.
United have come out on top in the two meetings so far this season; they will need to maintain Tuesday night’s focus and mentality to keep up that trend this weekend.
Score Prediction: Manchester United 2-0 Everton
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Manchester United vs Everton (Last 5 Meetings)
December 2020: Everton 0-2 Manchester United
November 2020: Everton 1-3 Manchester United
March 2020: Everton 1-1 Manchester United
December 2019: Manchester United 1-1 Everton
April 2019: Everton 4-0 Manchester United